Michael McGovern was born in London, England, in 1934. His career in theatre commenced after he left the Royal Air Force in 1957, when he auditioned at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, or the musical The Pajama Game. "I started off in musicals," he said in 2010. "I liked them because they please a bigger audience." When the production went on tour to South Africa he took over the lead role. The opportunity proved influential to Michael's life and career, as he decided to remain in South Africa and work in local theatre with the Cockpit Players from 1958. When the company folded in 1962, he relocated to Johannesburg, staying until 1966 when he returned to England.

Back in his native land, Michael returned to the London stage and also made his debut television appearance in the third episode of Vanity Fair, a 1967 BBC adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray's novel. Further work in television followed, in Armchair Theatre (No Easy Walk, a play about South Africa, 1968), Out of the Unknown (Target Generation, 1969), The Borderers (1970) and Doomwatch (Re-Entry Forbidden, also 1970), before Michael was lured back to South Africa in 1971 by the Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) to play the lead in The Case of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

From that time, Michael settled in South Africa, where he became one of their leading actors, playing regularly in radio and film (including in Donald Monat's Fraud! in 1974), on stage and latterly, on television.

by Alan Hayes


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